Mac OS X Turns 20 Years Old

Silver iMac computer
The new iMac has a lot to thank the original OS X for. Photo by Serpstat from Pexels

It’s been almost 20 years to the day that Apple launched the first version of Mac OS X on March 24th, 2001. Unfortunately, Mac OS X didn’t quite make it to 20 years old as the macOS Big Sur launched last year, effectively turning Mac 10 into Mac 11. Even though the operating system has changed a lot and transformed into iOS and iPadOS, the original DNA of the first macOS is still there in later releases. 


Mac OS X evolved as part of the NeXT operating system and signaled the start of the second era of Steve Jobs at Apple. 


Cheetah, the original OS X, had its share of bugs. Even so, it introduced several ideas that are still present in the latest version of the operating system. These key points include the dock. It may have changed a little here and there, but the dock is still the same thing deep down. Mac OS X Cheetah also brought us the original version of the Finder app. 


While the OS has undergone several tweaks and changes over two decades, the footprints of the original Aqua interface are still present in Big Sur. Mac OS X may be “gone,” but the progeny lives on. 


OS X introduced several features we take for granted these days, such as how Apple laptops wake up from sleep mode almost instantly and dynamic memory management. 


Looking back, the most significant impact OS X had may have been how it inspired iOS, which has become the most-used Apple OS. The macOS lives on differently than how it did in its early version. The OS recently dropped out of the spot for the second-most-used operating system, replaced by Google Chrome OS. 


Some things don’t change. Windows was – and still is – the most-used desktop operating system. Google Android is now the most popular operating system of all, dominating the mobile scene. 


While Mac OS X had a profound impact, it primarily lives on now as a support for iOS, which itself isn’t the most popular operating system in its category. Even though Apple achieved incredible success in the Steve Jobs era, the Mac is still relatively niche. 


A lot has changed over the past 20 years, but so many things have stayed the same. 

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